Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Feeding Hungry Tummies

If you've been following this blog, you'll recognize I appreciate the value of good, clean and healthy food.  My husband and I have been fortunate to be able to feed ourselves with whatever our hearts' desire while being mindful of our environment.  This is not the case for many Americans.  I had no idea how many though.   Not until I read this startling report did I understand the numbers!

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported for the third consecutive year:
1 in 6 Americans live in households that are food insecure.  The USDA defines a food insecure household as one where anyone in the household has been hungry at least once in the last year and could not afford or have the means to acquire enough food.  Based on this definition, nearly 49 million Americans are facing hunger.   Most troubling in these numbers include more than 16 million children.  Five million households experiencing food insecurity include at least one senior. 
I had been researching a charity I wanted to support and now my desired organization came into focus.  With so many wonderful non-profits specializing in hunger needing support, whether it's through volunteerism or donations, I needed to whittle down my choice since I can't help everyone.   I found mine through Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief organization.

Feeding America is in the midst of a campaign Hunger Action Month.  I've decided my action for the few days left in this month, is to host a virtual food drive for The LA Food Bank.  Donations will help purchase the most needed food items, like canned tuna, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables and cereals.  If you live in the area and would like to join me in making a donation, please click below to my hosted virtual food drive page.  Upon your donation the Food Bank will email you your receipt.  If you don't live in the area but would like to take your own action, visit the Hunger Action Month site for a lead in your area.

Donate to The LA Food Bank
Thank you!

The LA Food Bank is in it's 38th year of service to the residents of Los Angeles County. Over the years, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has grown in size, service and scope. Today the Food Bank provides food for nearly 900 member agency sites including abused and abandoned children homes, battered women shelters, senior centers, local food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS hospices and more. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing, Really?

It's not like I haven't learned this lesson before.  There are so many obvious examples.  Love sugary treats?  Watch it love your love handles all the more.  Enjoy a drink or two which experts believe to be good for your heart. Regularly surpass those two drinks and you run the risk of a myriad of problems associated with alcoholism.

Many years back when I was taking my lunch to school, my mom packed a lovely strawberry themed lunch knowing how much I loved them.  Strawberries are considered a top antioxidant.  She selected strawberry yogurt paired with a strawberry/banana nectar drink.  Late that afternoon, I clearly was experiencing some sort of reaction to something I ingested.  My poor mouth turned into an acidy fuzzball.  Final conclusion, too many strawberries caused the side effect.  Treatment:  my meals needed to have more variety.

Cinnamon should be no problem, right?  Cinnamon has been documented to help lower LDL cholesterol, it helps slow cancer growth cells in leukemia and lymphoma, it can help regulate type 2 diabetes and it has an anti-blood clotting effect.  A girlfriend of mine was working under a deadline for a master's class she was taking.  Her soothing drink of choice was cinnamon tea.  She also loved her cinnamon flavored  gum.  And who wouldn't?  Mysteriously, she had an outbreak where her gums swelled up.  She went to the dentist.  Sure enough, it was confirmed her body chemistry had a low threshold of taking in cinnamon.  Treatment:  moderation.

Skipping to a couple of months ago, I began experiencing dizzy spells.  It crept up on me and seemed unpredictable.   But as the weeks rolled by, I began having more dizzy spells when I would stand up quickly or even more scary while driving looking in the rear view mirror.  It was as if my brain wasn't in sync with my head movement.  All my research on-line popped up horrifying possibilities but no definitive conclusions.

Using a technician's troubleshooting theory, I asked myself what had recently changed in my life? Was it the new set of contact lenses and perhaps something was off kilter with my prescription?  My eye doctor ran a battery of tests and determined everything was just fine.  She recommended I go see my GP.

My GP is what everyone would hope.  I refer to him as my very own Sherlock Holmes.  We did the usual weigh in and had my blood pressure taken.  All good including my usual low blood pressure.  Then we stopped with the measurements and we just talked.  Sherlock asked about my diet, vitamin intake and drink choices.  On the surface, it appeared I was doing all the right things.  Not convinced that it didn't have to do with something I was consuming, he continued with the questioning versus employing costly tests.

He zeroed in on my drink choices and specifically how many cups of coffee, juice, water, tea and wine.  When he thought about my tendency to have low blood pressure and the ratio of my diuretic choices (coffee, tea and alcohol) to my water intake it was "elementary my dear Watson."    I was drying out my brain.  The blood flow doesn't move around so well when it's parched.  After giving this more thought, I realized I had recently swapped out my usual glasses of water in the morning for a couple cups of green tea, believing green tea was supposed to be good for me.  To test his theory, I eliminated the green tea altogether.  I didn't care for the taste of it that much anyway.  Within a few days the dizzy spells disappeared.

I'm not sure if we are hardwired to imagine the worst case scenario or if the news is overly weighted to bring us bad news and we just mirror that behavior.  Why it doesn't occur to me we may be overdoing something isn't clear.  Even when I have empirical proof as I have in these 3 instances where the symptoms actually indicated excesses of what we normally think of as a good thing, I still jump to a negative possibility.  The WebMD's of the world are a good starting off point, but what many diagnosis websites fail to emphasize is our individual, unique body chemistry plays a major role and that's why you should go see a doctor.  
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